I have no doubt that everyone reading this knows exactly how overwhelm feels. It seems to be one of the emotions that even the most laid back of humans experience and, often one of the hardest to get under control.
Personally, in my business there are three things that cause me to feel overwhelmed and these are as follows; 1) When on a Sunday night I take a look at the coming week as a whole and realise that I have seriously over booked myself leaving very little room to stop for a breath. 2) When I have lots of small jobs to do that on their own are very quick and simple, but all together form one big great scary monster and 3) when I have one big job or commitment that overshadows everything else that is going on in my life at the time. Do any of these resonate with you?
Just recently my biggest cause of overwhelm has been starting what will be a long term project. This project has nothing to do with my business but will definitely impact my business and I need to find a way of giving both equal amounts of my attention. It will be challenging in the best kind of way and I have no doubt that as the months go on I will find my groove, so to speak.
However, in order to find my groove (do people still say that?), I have to get over the first hurdle, getting started! You see, I am BRILLIANT at procrastination when something is worrying me and I have lost count of the amount of times I have meant to start this project but found other things to do, convincing myself that until they are done I simply can’t even think about anything else. About a week ago I decided that I couldn’t get started until I had some decent highlighter pens. Highlighter pens, while helpful, are not crucial to this project.
Anyway, today I realised that I had run out of excuses and so I made myself a cup of tea (other hot beverages are available) and I made a start. It was a small start but as the minutes turned into an hour I suddenly realised that the overwhelm was starting to lift and, better still, I am now excited about this ongoing project and the positive effect it will have on my future. So with that in mind here are my tips on how you can kick overwhelm’s butt:
- MAKE A START – No matter how small that start may be, it will help you find some momentum. If you are thinking about your week ahead and are worried about how you are going to fit everything in, start with a shower and decide on your outfit for the day. If you have an assignment or blog to write, start with with first paragraph and if you have lots of little jobs to get through, start with the one that you feel has the highest priority.
- BITE SIZED CHUNKS – Whatever the overwhelming thing is, break it down into bite sized chunks. I like to number my to-do list every day, 1 being the most important. This not only helps me prioritise but it also gives me clarity to see where the breaks in work can be should I choose to take them. With single, big tasks, I try to look at the overall job and visualise where I need to get to in a certain amount of time to feel like I am on track with it. Often, little and often works a treat and I do not need to do that much to feel this way.
- ALLOW YOURSELF TO TAKE A BREAK – Whenever you come to a natural break in the task/s, do something different for a few minutes. Put the kettle on, have some social media time (rather than using social media as a way to procrastinate!!) or get some fresh air. Remember, you are not a machine and you do need to switch off from time to time.
My final piece of advice for dealing with overwhelm is this: It doesn’t matter how pretty they make your project look, highlighter pens are not crucial to getting started.